Emotional Openness: How I Learned ADD and Sensitivity are Assets

"The most important lesson you can learn is to measure the value of your creativity yourself." - Lynn Weiss, PhD

Have you ever read the book, "Emotional Intelligence?" I have,  a long time ago. I need to read it again. Why? Because the author of the book,  Travis Bradberry said in this article in Forbes Magazine from early 2014: 

"Emotional Intelligence Is the Other Kind of Smart." 

I can't tell you how much that statement speaks to me. I always knew I wasn't book smart, but people smart. My Dad handed me the first edition of the book when I was I think a teenager and told me, "Mere, this is us. Read it." 

Sensitivity

I used to beat myself up thinking there was something wrong with me because I was so sensitive. I used to get asked by my parents, "Why are you so sensitive?" Over the years I got sensitive to my sensitivity and became defensive about it - like it was something about me that was a bad.  

Not to mention, I sucked at school. I mean. It was NOT easy.  Just because you write a book, doesn't mean you are an A student. I always thought that meant I was bad or stupid. From grade school all the way to grad school, I struggled with school - period, especially the math and sciences. 

Idea Overdrive

Then, a few years ago I found myself being driven nuts by my thoughts, and not just the unhealthy ones. I had so many ideas and a vision for Healthy Voice. I struggled with focus and would beat myself up because I couldn't get focused. (There's that willpower again!)

One doctor gave me a short test to see if I had it. Immediate, yes. Then he said I probably wished I could have found out about it when I was a lot younger for school. (Yup.)

Another doctor made me take the extensive test to make sure I had it. I did.  I realized I wasn't the only one in my family who had it. My Dad obviously used it to his advantage and was successful in what he did! But it was bogging me down.

So I became open to some avenues (just like everything else in my life - none of which were a fix). I knew this was going to be a lot of behavior and not relying on some pill alone. 

Then I got curious about the behavior aspect. I knew my husband had ADHD and it made me think - okay, this is something we are going to have to pay attention to in our marriage besides everything else. So I got a few books, scanned through them, and put them on the shelf...

Flash forward to a few months ago. I'm in group therapy. I notice how sensitive I am to other people's feelings that have nothing to do with me. My sensitivity comes up and so does my defensiveness, like I was trying to cover up a beautiful flower.

I realized I had been trying so hard for so long not to show it and when it would show I would feel really flawed. But in that moment I was shown how amazing of a gift that sensitivity could be. Immediately I took the flip side view and realized - wow, this is nothing I have to be ashamed about. This is a part of my gift! Wow.

The Book that Changed my Perspective Completely

So flash forward a few months. I'm sitting around on my butt in surgery recovery. I finally pick up one of those ADD books. This one in particular is called "ADD and Creativity" by a woman named, Lynn Weiss, PhD. She wrote a bunch of books on the topic including a few of the ones I had on my shelf. 

Little did I know how much this book would make an impact on my life. I can't even begin to describe to you how much inner confidence this book gave me. It's like the author was my own, personal life coach who understood my ADD. I think I wrote WOW in the margin so many times I can't even count. 

This book showed me how my ADD is an asset in life that I can use to my advantage, and I'm not dumb. It was almost like a huge Healthy Voice. She talks about living in a world that is focused on linear thinking and those of us who are ADD are creative thinking. We've been trying so hard for so long and feeling like failures for not being able to think like that. I mean, every way she talked about her thinking, her ways of organizing, her ways of being creative - I got it.

Today, I finally finished this book today. I've been savoring it for weeks now, and didn't want it to end.

What I can tell you is this book confirmed for me that I AM a creative person and that is a wonderful thing. I don't have to force myself into a cubicle or a linear box, or think I'm weak because I can't think so linear. 

On top of that, the author showed me that my feelings really ARE the navigation device for the way I think and they aren't a BAD thing. 

Here is just one thing she says in the final chapter:

"By feeling through your heart and by listening to your feelings, you will find creativity. Your feelings are guidelines. That's how the ADD-style brain works. Your job is to give yourself permission to follow what those feelings say - to give yourself permission to follow your heart path."

Other parts of the book she talks about HOW to really work on one thing at a time.

She says that it is OKAY to have interests in various things - that's what makes you who you are! She tells me that ADD thinkers don't learn by someone teaching in a class or from a book, they learn by experience and application. YES!! Totally me!

Wow. How long did I spend thinking that I wasn't smart enough and looking to others to measure the value of my writing or other creativity? Wow. Wow. Wow. She talks about how people with ADD have an extreme sensitivity to outside judgement. Wow! She tells me I have heightened awareness, I feel everything around me intensely and goes on to tell me I didn't choose to be this way, it's just the way I'm made! One more time - wow.

There is so much more to the book. I highly recommend it. If you have ever struggled with ADD and accepting creativity within you, this is an incredible book - whether it's for business or for personal. It just healed so many of my old struggles thinking my brain was flawed in function. I'm actually excited about the stuff that I'm passionate about and not feeling defeated. I feel revived.

A huge thank you to Lynn Weiss, PhD for every page of this book. It's forever etched into my mind and list of reference books for life.

2 more blog posts in the 7-part series. One is tomorrow on Vulnerability and sharing your story, and Sunday is on spiritual openness. Hope you'll check back again!